Throughout the year, we present an article in the bulletin each week on a variety of topics, written by a member of our Parish staff on a rotating basis.
by Orin Johnson, Director of Music & Liturgy
The Medium is the Message?:
I firmly believe that any person engaged in any particular liturgical ministry must meet people where they are and offer to them loving invitations into deeper relationships with Christ and the Christian community. There are some other liturgists I know who prioritize other facets of their ministries, for instance accuracy to the missal, or clear and unwavering presentations of Divine Truth. These elements — invitations, love, accuracy, and Truth — need not and ought not be oppositional to one another, but rather should and must work together.
We hear of prophets this week in the liturgy of the word: Moses, himself a prophet, tells the people that more prophets will come, more who speak Divine Truth, and that we must be attentive to them. The love God has for us, and the God’s truth which is spoken this week are of course not oppositional at all — God is love, and God is truth, after all. I might suggest that those who perhaps find contradictions here are concerned too much with content and perhaps not concerned enough with the manner of delivery.
In 1964, Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase, “The medium is the message,” and the world has been unpacking that ever since. While the deposit of faith left to us from our scriptures and Tradition is indeed vast and profound, it is a message sometimes not communicated well to the next generation of believers.
Here is a perhaps useful image from the famed Missourian Mark Twain: “We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it and stop there lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again and that is well but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.” As we continue to ponder how our liturgical ministries — indeed our very lives — invite, welcome, and begin to form disciples, let us be mindful that there could be, perhaps even unbeknownst to us, some moment which, though it only happens one time, may give someone the idea that it’s not worth returning to the eucharistic table or to the faith again. Most of the time, if there is that moment, it’s not the message, it’s the medium. Said another way, such a moment wouldn’t be caused by the Truth itself, but by the lack of love in passing on that Truth to one another.